Merkley, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to End Ban on Shipping Alcohol Through the Mail

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley today joined Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA-14) and Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04), in introducing the USPS Shipping Equity Act—a bipartisan bill to end the Prohibition-era ban that prevents the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) from shipping alcoholic beverages to consumers.

Currently, private shipping companies like FedEx can ship alcohol, but the USPS cannot.

“All American businesses deserve the same access to the U.S. Postal Service when it comes to delivering their products to their consumers—and we all have a vested interest in making sure the USPS thrives,” said Merkley. “Finally eliminating a Prohibition-era ban on shipping wine, beer, and spirits through the mail will ensure that wineries, breweries, and distillers in Oregon and throughout America have another option to consider when it comes to selling their world-class products, while also helping to boost the competitiveness of the USPS.”

The USPS Shipping Equity Act would allow USPS to ship alcoholic beverages directly from licensed producers and retailers to consumers over the age of 21, in accordance with state and local shipping regulations. The bill will give USPS two years to develop regulations and implement the law, ensuring USPS is ready to safely deliver alcoholic beverages to adult consumers with appropriate identification checks in place.

“The Oregon Brewers Guild fully supports the USPS Shipping Equity Act being brought forth by Senator Merkley,” said Christina LaRue, Executive Director of the Oregon Brewers Guild. “The past year has brought uncertainty and unprecedented economic loss to the Oregon craft beer industry. Between closures and restrictions on the hospitality industry, draft sales, which our members rely heavily on, plummeted and many of them had to shift to direct to consumer shipping in order to keep their product moving and their businesses open. Allowing USPS the same privileges as private carriers not only will help our members by giving them an additional shipping option, it will help generate much needed revenue for the USPS. We thank Senator Merkley for his efforts and support this legislation.”

“The direct-to-consumer channel is absolutely vital to Oregon’s 900+ family-owned wine businesses whose wines can often only be purchased directly from the winery,” said Alex Sokol Blosser, President of the Oregon Winegrowers Association. “Wineries shipped 27 percent more wine to consumers in 2020 than they did in 2019, helping to offset huge losses from in-person and restaurant sales that dried up due to the pandemic. We anticipate the DtC channel will only grow in the years to come, and we welcome the opportunity to broaden the options to get Oregon’s coveted wines safely in the hands of wine enthusiasts while generating a much needed revenue stream for the USPS.”

“The Oregon Distillers Guild fully supports the USPS Shipping Equity Act,” said Brad Irwin, President of the Oregon Distillers Guild. “It is a win-win for all parties: Consumers have more access to products that they want. Producers have access to these consumers. The U.S. Postal Service has an opportunity to expand its services.”

“Passing this legislation would allow the Postal Service to better serve its customers and generate needed revenue for the agency,” said David Norton, President of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 82, serving the Portland metro area. “Our members stand ready to offer yet another service to Oregonians and we thank Senator Merkley for his leadership on this issue.”

As the market for direct-to-consumer shipping continues to soar, with e-commerce sales expected to top $24 billion, wineries, breweries, and other producers are confined by limited shipping options. The USPS Shipping Equity Act would level the alcohol-shipping playing field and establish a new source of revenue for USPS. This bill would result in tens of millions of dollars in new revenue for the Postal Service in the coming years.

It would also expand access to consumers for direct-to-consumer shipments. While USPS ships to every household in the nation, private carriers do not, especially in many rural areas. Many Americans do not have access to direct-to-consumer alcohol shipments, though they may be legal under their state’s law, because only the Postal Service delivers packages to their door. The current ban is unfair to these consumers.

The USPS Shipping Equity Act is endorsed by the Oregon Winegrowers Association, Oregon Distillers Guild, Oregon Brewers Guild, National Association of Letter Carriers (Branch 82), American Postal Workers Union, American Craft Spirits Association, Brewers Association, California State Association of Letter Carriers, Distilled Spirits Council, National Association of Letter Carriers, National Association of Postal Supervisors, National Postal Mail Handlers Union, National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association,, United Postmasters and Managers of America, and WineAmerica.